Callum Brittain began this season in League One with MK Dons, who had released him months earlier, but looks set to finish it in the Championship promotion hunt.
The 22-year-old wing-back was let go by the Dons at the end of his contract last summer for financial reasons during the coronavirus crisis, but eventually signed a two-year deal. He began the campaign as a substitute but was then signed by Barnsley in October and has been nearly an ever-present in the side that has surged into the Championship’s top six under Valerien Ismael.
Brittain told the Chronicle: “It’s been a bit of a mental six to eight months for me, signing at Dons then getting my move to Barnsley. To be in a promotion chase, it couldn’t have gone any better. I can’t say I expected to be in the top six with ten games to go.
“I just wanted to play at a higher level and what has come with it has been amazing. When I first came, I said this team had real talent and we’re definitely showing it.
“The gaffer has made a real difference in the way he has got players playing and the discipline he has. It’s been really amazing this season and I can’t wait to finish it.”
Some opposition managers, including Derby boss Wayne Rooney, have criticised Barnsley’s style as ‘direct’. Brittain said: “I don’t care one bit. If managers want to say how we play is bad then they can but, at the end of the day, we’re in the top six. Our style has picked up points against those managers who have said that.
“You can’t knock the results.
“We have scored some really nice goals like Frieser’s goals at Bournemouth and Sheffield Wednesday. There are times when we go direct but we have played some really good football.”
Brittain is glad there is now just one game remaining until the international break.
He said: “I am really looking forward to it. It’s been a ruthless and non-stop schedule although I have really enjoyed it and we’ve done really well as a team.
“It will be nice to have a few weeks’ break.
“The staff have been really good with the schedule we have had.
“We have been in most days doing a bit of yoga and stretching and everything in the gym. It’s been one of the most hectic schedules I have been a part of.”
Brittain admits Barnsley were poor in the first half at Bournemouth on Saturday but produced one of their best displays of the season after the break, securing a 3-2 win following a half-time rant by head coach Valerien Ismael.
“He’s one of the biggest factors why this team is where we are. He’s helped every player in every way. His words are inspiring and his telling off at half-time just kicked us into gear and made us go out in the second half and play like we did.”